New Jersey Couple Arrested, Federally Charged With Abusing Their Children In Cruel “Training” Program
NEWARK, N.J. – A U.S. Army major surrendered to federal agents following his wife’s arrest at their Mount Holly, N.J., home this morning on charges that they abused their children through neglectful and cruel acts, including by breaking their bones, denying them medical attention, withholding water and force-feeding them hot sauce, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Carolyn Jackson, 35, and John E. Jackson, 37, formerly of the Picatinny Arsenal Installation in Morris County, N.J., are charged in a 17-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child, 13 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and three counts of assault.
The case falls under federal jurisdiction because the crimes were allegedly committed on a military base. The defendants are scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk in Newark federal court.
“Carolyn and John Jackson are charged with unimaginable cruelty to children they were trusted to protect, said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “The crimes alleged should not happen to any child, anywhere, and it is deeply disturbing that they would happen on a military installation. Along with the FBI, we will continue to seek justice for our communities' most vulnerable victims.”
According to the indictment unsealed today:
From approximately August 2005 until April 23, 2010, Carolyn and John Jackson conspired to engage in a constant course of neglect and cruelty towards three children they fostered and then adopted, one of whom died in May 2008. The Jacksons told their three biological children not to report the physical assaults to others, saying that the punishments and disciplinary techniques were justified, as they were “training” the adopted children how to behave.
After John Jackson was informed by a family friend that one of the children had revealed the abuse in the Jackson household, John Jackson reported the breach to Carolyn Jackson, who retaliated against that child with multiple beatings with a belt.
The Jacksons physically assaulted their children with various objects, causing two children to sustain fractured bones, for which the Jacksons failed to seek prompt medical attention.
They also withheld proper medical care for their adopted children, withheld sufficient nourishment and food for two of their children, withheld adequate water from two of their children, and, at times, prohibited them from drinking water altogether. The Jacksons even punished an adopted child they caught sneaking food or water, and required one of their biological children to prevent that child from drinking out of sinks and toilets.
As another form of punishment, Carolyn and John Jackson forced two of the children to consume food intended to cause them pain and suffering, variously including red pepper flakes, hot sauce and raw onion. They also caused one child to ingest excessive sodium or sodium-laden substances while being deprived of water, leading to a life-threatening condition.
All of the children are currently in the custody of the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency.
If convicted, Carolyn and John Jackson each face a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison on each of the 17 counts with which they are charged. Each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, under the command of Major General David E. Quantock and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melissa L. Jampol and Elizabeth M. Harris of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Carolyn Jackson: Rubin Sinins Esq., Springfield
John Jackson: Assistant Federal Public Defenders David Holman and Carol Gillen Esqs., Newark